Are you available for a phone call?
Claire is the assistant to my agent, Luke, so I email back in the affirmative. I wonder what’s up: phone calls out of the blue are usually good news, like maybe something exciting happening with a film.
I have some good news and some bad news… I’ll call you in a min.
Now, let me skip ahead and tell you that the bad news isn’t anything serious: they just have to subtract some money from my royalty check to pay US withholding tax. But in the five minutes before I find that out, I am convinced that either:
- Doubleday has decided to drop me as an author; or:
- Company has sold much more poorly than anyone let on and Doubleday has decided to drop me as an author.
This completely out-of-the-blue, oh-by-the-way-everybody-hates-you-and-your-career-is-over thing happened to me once before, in 2002, and suddenly I’m back there, staring into the abyss. The “good news” will turn out to be: “And that means we can start looking for an even better publisher!” Everyone will try to be positive but the inescapable truth will be: I’m history. I know this for a fact.
I love being able to write for my job. I love it. But boy, I could do without the occasional heart-stopping moments where I see my entire professional world fall apart. I really could.
P.S. Oh, and later I emailed Claire to ask what the good news was again. She probably did mention it in the phone call, but I didn’t notice because I was too busy planning my new career as an ice-cream salesman. She said it was that I had some royalties.